Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hockey Fever

I posted earlier this week about the contagious enthusiasm here in Raleigh around the hockey playoffs. Nowhere is that fever more rampant than in Canada where hockey is THE sport. Here's the Canadian national anthem from the Edmonton/Anaheim game on Tuesday night. This is a great, spontaneous display that gave me chills. Fans in San Jose who booed during Oh Canada earlier in the playoffs should watch this and learn from it.

Hat tip to Chris LeDuc for forwarding this gem.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Salter Path

Team Rutledge packed the van with six months worth of supplies and the kitchen sink this past weekend for a two-day trek to the unique village of Salter Path, North Carolina. Salter Path is home to our neighbor Chad Guthrie's family and is where Chad grew up. With the Guthries as the navigators of our caravan, we ventured with dogs and babies down east to the Bogue Banks to celebrate birthdays and get away for some much needed R&R.

Douglas and Kathy, Chad's parents, have an incredible spot at the beach where they have lived for over 30 years. Their lot is over an acre in size and is dotted with knotty live oak trees and lush vegetation. They welcomed us by opening up their home, smoking a pig, and giving us some great history on how the area was settled. We also got some great scoop on Chad with some quality growing-up stories that Amy, Claudia and I will no doubt use against him in the future.

The weekend was a great getaway spent with great folks. We hope to get back down for a visit in the future.

Claudia & Chad enjoy a cool Saturday morning.

The crew relaxes on the front porch -- (seated clockwise) Kathy, Douglas (with boys), Claudia (with McKay), and (standing) Amy

Chef Douglas masters the cooker and smokes a pig for the upcoming birthday festivities.

Pied Piper Claudia leads the kids around the yard -- Owen, Gus, and Lucy in the wagon as Max supervises.

Gus pleads to be let outside with the dogs with his best pig-nose face.

Gus sports the shades for his first trip into the ocean. It was all good until he got his first mouthful of saltwater.

Owen practices his sand crab imitation.

Claudia and Gus chill out and ponder why they don't go to the beach more often.

The Rutledges pose for a family shot at the beach.

After chasing dogs and birds, running down the beach, and making sure everyone was in their right spot, Tucker crashes in the driveway for a well-deserved nap.


The NHL returned this season after a year-long absence due to millionaire professional athletes and billionaire owners squabbling over money. Greedy aspects of sports aside, hockey has really returned with a bang this year. The league put a salary cap in place which levels the playing field for smaller market teams like Carolina. The league also changed the rules to cut out on the clutching and grabbing that had really slowed the game down in the years leading up to the lockout. The result was a fantastic product on the ice as the game is faster, scoring is up, and small market teams like Carolina, Buffalo and Edmonton are among the final four teams remaining in the playoffs.

Amy and I have definitely regained the hockey fever that captivated this area in 2002 when the Canes made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals. People drive around town with Hurricanes flags hanging off their cars. Sports radio is buzzing with hockey talk. Hockey in North Carolina has actually created an interesting dynamic in this area. The Triangle is a college sports mecca, especially with basketball. Allegiances run deep between the three schools that are separated by 20 miles -- North Carolina, NC State, and Duke. Yet hockey is the one thing that unites these fans. The college rivalries subside as people of all stripes throw on their Canes jerseys and head over to the RBC Center to tailgate before the games. It really is an exciting thing to be a part of as a fan.

Since we've had the boys Amy and I have not made it to many Canes games. In the pre-monster years we were part of a group that split season tickets so we got to see them a lot. These days we mostly watch the games on TV or listen to them on the radio. So Friday when they opened up practice before the conference finals with Buffalo, I ventured over to the RBC at lunchtime to catch a glimpse of the team. The Canes lost 3-2 on Saturday, but they won 4-3 last night to even the series. The series returns to Raleigh on Sunday, and I may try to scalp a ticket to catch that one.

Lastly, one thing they do on the big screen at Canes games when Carolina scores is show Ric Flair -- yes, the Nature Boy -- in a Canes jersey shouting, "That's another Carolina Hurricanes goal! Woooooooo!!!" The crowd goes nuts and screams along "Woooo! Wooowoooo!" I am working on the Ric Flair cheer with the boys. When we get that down you can bet that it will be posted here. ;-) For now, you can see the Nature Boy's version.

The RBC Center

The Canes shootaround. Being the goalie just getting peppered with slapshots has got to be a fun job -- pays well though.

Fan favorite Mike Commodore -- sans bathrobe -- in the back with his mop of red hair covered by his helmet. Fans show up to the games in red wigs and bathrobes (Commodore wears a Canes bathrobe postgame and often does interviews in it.)

21-year old Eric Stahl is the top goal scorer for the team and the most recognizable star.

Team captain Rod Brind'Amour has been around for a long time. His gritty play and leadership have carried the team deep into the playoffs.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Back to the Bluegrass

This is coming a few weeks late but what a great time the boys and I had visiting family in Paducah, Clarksville and Franklin, TN. We enjoyed playing on the playground, purple shirt day, watching monkeys at the Rain Forest Cafe, attending Derby Day at the football field, watching soccer practice with Granddaddy coaching, eating BBQ and birthday cake, fajitas in Franklin for Cinco de Mayo, parading through the neighborhood with Mason playing guitar, sitting on the back porch as Gus discovered leaves... I could go on and on.

As a side note, when we left KY last Sept my mom ended up with a ruptured disc in her back and my sister had the same thing in her neck after this visit. I feel a need to establish a playtime limit next visit so nobody gets hurt. Ha! Thanks for the hospitality while we were there.

Uncle Ken shows the boys the art of digging in a birthday cake.

Granddaddy gets a workout on the slide.

The boys show Uncle Scott how to check the oil in the car.

Granny and Aunt Kay are impressed by the amount of food these boys can eat.

Gus has a 'ball' with Aunt Ashley.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Milk toss

Feeding time is much more fun when games are involved, especially games that only Owen & Gus understand. For instance, this game involves chucking the sippie cup without dropping it on the ground. Gus 1, Owen 0 after round one.

Lions, & tigers & bears...oh my

It has been ten days since our last post -- way too long. So much has been going on the past two weeks. I was out in Las Vegas for a week for training with my job. Amy went back to Kentucky with the boys to spend some time with the family in Paducah. When we got back to North Carolina, I was swamped with work again, and Amy was adjusting to having the boys on her own again. So we have both been going 100mph lately.

On Friday we made a conscious effort to get away. I took a vacation day from work, and Amy and I loaded the boys up to make our first trip to the North Carolina Zoo over in Asheboro. The NC Zoo is a pretty interesting place. Asheboro is a small town right in the heart of central North Carolina, equidistant from Raleigh, Charlotte & Greensboro -- the three largest cities in the state. It is a natural habitat zoo so we got to see many, many animals as close to their natural setting as possible. The boys got their first glimpses of polar bears, sea lions, a seal, kangaroos, box turtles, giraffes, an ostrich, pink flamingos, bears -- you name it. It was a gorgeous day to get away and well worth the trip. Here are some shots from the zoo trek. Cheers!

The polar bear was quite entertained with the trash can and plastic toys at his disposal. This bear was rescued from a circus in Mexico. While he doesn't have as much freedom as he would in the North Pole, he is pampered a lot more than in his last life as a circus attraction.

The kangaroos were all about vegging out and sunning themselves, mate!

Yes, apparently a bear does it in the woods and in the water, too.

Amy & the boys strike a pose in front of giraffes and an ostrich.

Gus & Owen are intrigued by a wild goose that propositioned them for food.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Owen crawls

I'm out in Las Vegas this week. Amy and the boys are in KY visiting Nana & Granddaddy. Amy sent me this video today of Owen. He has ditched the army crawl (on the carpet at least) for the full blown crawl on all fours.